Denver, CO. The Denver Broncos defense in 2011 was kind of like a bag of mixed nuts….some was really good, some was really bad, and a whole lot of stuff was really in between. The emergence of rookie Von Miller was as advertised, as he showed why he was the #2 overall pick from Texas A&M. Elvis Dumervil came back from injury to have another nice season rushing the passer from the other side. Champ Bailey was Champ Bailey as he had another solid, Pro Bowl year. Some others had some nice moments here and there, but too many times the defense gave up a back-breaking play on the ground or in the air, which played a huge part in the team only going 8-8. The Broncos finished in the bottom half of the league in both rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed, so a change was in order. Denver was looking for an experienced defensive coordinator who could come in and command respect right away. Look no further, as they ultimately found their man, Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio brings a ton of expertise in his new position as defensive coordinator. Here is a little background for those who may not know….He was actually drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981 to play Major League Baseball. Instead, he opted to go to college and attend USC, where he played both baseball and football. As a linebacker, he was an All-American and was also named the 1985 Rose Bowl MVP. In baseball, he played catcher and hit an impressive .340. In 1985, Del Rio was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 3rd round. He went on to have an 11 year NFL career, playing for five different organizations. After retiring in 1996, he immediately went into coaching, and in 2003 was hired to be the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach. After going 69-73 in a little over eight years there, he was fired last November. Being that the Broncos had an opening on the defensive side of the ball, Del Rio was hired this past January to improve the Denver “D”. Although we all know the offense will get almost all of the attention because of the new future Hall of Fame QB, the success of 2012 may ultimately rest on what Del Rio does to improve the defense.
In Del Rio’s one season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, the numbers were very impressive. In 2002, when Jack ran Carolina’s defense, they ranked 4th against the pass and 8th against the run. The Panthers were 5th overall in total yards against, which impressed Jacksonville enough to hire him as their head coach. The question has been asked many times already….how long will Del Rio really be in Denver? Will he bounce after one year and be looking for a head coaching position somewhere? The obvious answer is, probably….And John Elway and John Fox both have to know this. But once the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, it was clear this organization wants to win now. Even if Del Rio is here for just one year, he gives this defense the best chance to get better quickly and be good enough to get Denver deep into this years playoffs. If Jack can improve this defense even slightly, they may be able to occasionally steal the spotlight from the guy wearing #18.
Denver Sports by J Simp
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